Prime minister Liz Truss announced her resignation today following a turbulent 44-day tenure at Number 10.
During her time in charge, she made a number of decisions that impacted the energy sector from fracking to IR35 U-turns.
Ms Truss also made the controversial call to appoint arch-Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg as Secretary for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
North Sea licensing round
Before being elected by Conservative party members, Ms Truss promised over 100 new North Sea licences when she took to office.
This is a commitment she stuck to with the round opening at the beginning of this month.
Around 900 blocks in the UK North Sea are up for grabs, providing the opportunity for over 100 licences to be created.
This was the first oil and gas licensing round in the UK since 2019 and marked the 33rd in the county’s history.
A handful of existing North Sea oil and gas schemes were also earmarked for fast track as part of Ms Truss’ energy security push.
Among them are the Ithaca Energy Cambo project, the BP Murlach field, and Harbour Energy’s Talbot subsea development.
Renewables windfall tax and uncoupling
After beating former-Chancellor Rishi Sunak to the top job, Ms Truss quickly announced that she would be rolling out an energy price cap to combat the cost of living crisis.
However, she resisted calls to ramp up the windfall tax on the North Sea oil and gas sector, enacted by Mr Sunak under the tenure of Boris Johnosn in May.
Instead, as part of the Energy Prices Bill, she imposed a cap on the revenue of electricity generators, including renewables companies, a move described as a “de-facto windfall tax” by industry.
While the future of the bill is now uncertain, if it does progress it would only apply to developments in England and Wales – a consultation on expanding it to Scotland has been mooted.
The move is designed to uncouple the price of cheap renewable energy from gas, which has soared in the last year.
As part of her bid to become PM, Ms Truss pledged to carry out a review of IR35 reforms, brought in for the private sector in 2021.
It had been thought that any changes would be minimal, but as part of his ‘mini-budget’, Kwasi Kwarteng announced plans to scrap the off-payroll rules.
He was soon out of the job though, and his successor Jeremy Hunt reneged on the move as part of a wide package of U-turns unveiled on Monday.
It was a move that drew criticism from the energy sector with Qdos chief executive Seb Maley saying: “I’m lost for words. The chaos, uncertainty and disruption caused by the mini-Budget is unprecedented.
“While U-turning on some tax cuts made sense, cancelling the repeal of IR35 reform is the wrong decision at the wrong time. It’s a knee-jerk reaction from the government and, in my opinion, won’t benefit the economy.”
Perhaps most controversially of all, Ms Truss sought to overturn the moratorium on fracking to boost domestic gas supplies.
It caused a schism within the Conservative party though, with widespread opposition to the move from MPs and campaigners alike.
Notable, Scotland’s net zero secretary Michael Matheson ruled out mirroring Ms Truss’ move north of the border.